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The collection of Humming-birds exhibited in the British 
Museum was formed by the late Mr. John Gould, F.R.S., who 
commenced the study of this family of birds some forty years 
ago. The difficulties of obtaining new or rare species from 
countries previously untrodden by the collector were much 
greater then than they are in the present day ; but the energy 
and enthusiasm of John Gould overcame all obstacles ; he 
lost no opportunity of acquiring, at any cost, species not repre- 
sented in his collection ; he incited by high rewards travellers to 
go specially in search of rare or unknown species ; and after the 
lapse of twenty years he had succeeded in bringing together a 
series far exceeding in variety of forms his own expectation or that 
of ornithologists generally. He commenced the publication of a 
great work, ' The Monograph of the Trochilidae,' which finally 
extended to five volumes in folio, and comprised descriptions 
and figures of about 400 different species. 

From an early period he began to mount with his own hand 
the most remarkable types, placing as much as possible allied 
forms in the same case, and demonstrating their habits and chief 
characteristics, and especially the. ever- varying hues of their 
colours, by the different attitudes in which he arranged the 
specimens. This collection of mounted Humming-birds con- 
tained about 300 species and 2000 specimens when he exhibited 
it in the Zoological Gardens in Eegent's Park during the Great 
Exhibition of 1851. It proved one of the great attractions in 
London during that memorable year ; and after it had been 


exhibited to the public for a year or two, he removed it to his 
residence in Charlotte Street, Bedford Square, where he had 
built a gallery for its reception. Here it remained until his 
death in February 1881. 

It was always Mr. Gould's hope and wish that the whole col- 
lection of mounted and unmounted specimens should be preserved 
as the property of the nation ; and accordingly it was offered by 
his Executors to the Trustees of the British Museum, who pur- 
chased it in the same year. The acquisition of this collection 
was all the more important, as almost all the original specimens 
from which the figures in his work on Humming-birds were 
taken are contained in it. 

We can here only shortly refer to some of the principal 
features which give so great an interest to this group of birds. 
Those who are desirous of reading a fuller account should con- 
sult Mr. Gould's 'Introduction to the Trochilidae ' (London, 
1861, 8vo). 

Humming-birds or Trochilidce, formerly placed in most classi- 
fications in the Order of Tenuirostres or Slender-billed Birds, 
form a group b}^ themselves *. They are most nearly allied to 

The " Ruby and Topaz " Humming-bird ( Chrysolampis mosquitus). (Half nat. size.) 

* Tbe two species figured in this Guide-book ( Chrysolampis mosquitus and JDoci- 
mastes ensiferus) have been selected, tbe one to show tbe general form of a typical 
Humming-bird, the other to illustrate one of those numerous wonderful modifica- 
tions of structure fitting tbe species for some special object in its habits. 


the Swifts, with which they have many points of their internal 
organization in common. Even their long slender bills, which 
appear so very different from the wide-gaping mouth of a Swift, 
are much less so at an early period of their life. Mr. Wallace 
describes the nestlings of some species of Humming-bird ; they 
had the bill short and broadened, the gape wide, and, in fact, 

The " Sword-bill " Humming-bird feeding on the tubular flowers of Brugman&ia. 
(One fourth nat. size.) 

more resembling that of a Swift than that of the adult parent bird. 
The bill of Humming-birds, although always very slender, is very 
variable in shape and size, being straight in some and curved in 
others ; in some extremely short, as in the Thorn-bills {Rampho- 
micron), and in others extremely long, as in the Sword-bill 


(Docimastes), where it is used in probing to the base of the long 
tubular flowers from which the bird derives its food. 

The tongue is long, composed of two cylindrical united tubes, 
and bifid at the tip. It is capable of being protruded for some 
distance, the tongue-bones with their muscles being prolonged 
backwards and upwards over the back of the skull as in the 

Skull of Humming-bird with tongue, a, tongue, bifid at the end ; b, muscle 
retracting the tongue ; c, muscle protruding the tongue. 

Woodpeckers. The wings have ten primaries, and are, as a 
rule, narrow and pointed, apparently most unsuited for a sus- 
tained flight ; but they are set in motion by enormously developed 
muscles, which render the body of these tiny birds much heavier 
than one would expect. The sternum, which gives attachment 

Front and side views of the breast-bone of a Humming-bird. 

to these muscles, has a very deep keel and a rounded posterior 
margin without indentation or fissure. The tail is wonderfully 
varied in shape throughout the family, and in many instances 
highly ornamented ; it consists of ten feathers and no more. 
The tarsi and feet are particularly small and feeble, and quite 
unfit for progression on the ground. Therefore these birds 
seldom or never alight on the earth, but prefer to settle on a 
bare dead limb of a tree or some other projection. The eggs 
are oval and white, and always two in number. The nest is a 


delicate structure, compactly built of soft materials felted to- 
gether ; its outside is generally adorned with lichens or dead 
leaves in such a manner as to tend to its concealment. The 
male is said to work at this decoration often after the female has 
commenced to sit. As a rule the male is the most brilliantly 
coloured, but in some instances the female is also adorned with 
metallic plumage. 

Humming-birds possess an almost unique power and peculiarity 
of flight. The Duke of Argyll {'Reign of Law,' p. 175) describes 
it thus : — " The Humming-birds are perhaps the most remarkable 
examples in the world of the machinery of flight. The power 
of poising themselves in the air, — remaining absolutely stationary 
whilst they search the blossoms for insects, — is a power essential 

to their life When they intend progressive flight, it is 

effected with such velocity as to elude the eye. The action of 
the wing in all these cases is far too rapid to enable the observer 
to detect the exact difference between that kind of motion which 
keeps the bird at absolute rest in the air, and that which carries 

it along with such immense velocity There is another 

fact mentioned by those who have watched their movements 
most closely — viz. the fact that the axis of the Humming-bird's 
body, when hovering, is always highly inclined, so much so as 
to appear almost perpendicular in the air. In other words, the 
wing-stroke, instead of being delivered perpendicularly down- 
wards, which would infallibly carry the body onwards, is de- 
livered at such an angle forwards as to bring to an exact balance 
the upward, the downward, and the forward forces which bear 
upon the body of the bird." The sight of a number of these 
birds feeding round some trees which are out in full bloom 
is described by all who have witnessed it as being one of the 
most remarkable spectacles of the Tropics. 

Their intellect seems to be of a low order. In their disposition 
(says Mr. Gould) they are unlike birds, and approach more 
nearly the insects. Restlessness, irritability, and pugnacity are 
among their principal characteristics ; they not only fight per- 
sistently among themselves, but they will even venture to attack 
much larger birds, and it is said that several of them will com- 
bine and attack a Hawk and drive it away. People are often 


attacked by them when they approach too near their nests. It 
is stated that they have also a great dislike to the large Hawk- 
moths or Sphinges, which they themselves somewhat resemble in 
their flight, the vibration of the wings producing in both a 
similar humming sound. 

Humming-birds are extremely difficult to keep in confinement, 
owing probably to the impossibility of providing them with suitable 
food and with the means of indulging in their long and ceaseless 
flights. Liberty is to them life. Mr. Gould succeeded in bringing 
one alive to London, but it died two days after its arrival. In 
their native country they survive the loss of their liberty for 
a few months, and are said to become at once familiar to the 
persons attending to them. . . • 

Humming-birds are entirely confined to the New World *. 
In popular accounts they are not rarely mentioned as occurring 
in Africa, India, and other tropical parts of the Old World ; but 
the birds thus misnamed belong to a very different group, viz. 
the Nectariniidce or Sun-birds, which, indeed, offer a striking ex- 
ternal resemblance to the true Humming-birds, but differ from 
them in the structure of the feet and tongue, in the shape of the 
sternum, and other most important characters. Altogether about 
430 different kinds of Humming-birds are known. They range 
from Sitka in the far North-west to Tierra del Fuego, and from 
the lowlands near the coast to an altitude of 16,000 feet on the 
Andes. The northern and southern species, however, are 
migrants, and retire at the end of the short summer of the high 
latitudes towards the equator. The number of species increases 
as we approach the equator, the tropical forest-regions producing 
them in the greatest variety ; and an idea of the abundance 
of some of the species may be obtained from the fact that their 
skins have been for many years an article of trade, tens of 
thousands being annually exported from Bogota and various 
places in Brazil, and sold in London, Paris, and New York. 

Leaving out of consideration the species which have a wide 

* The accompanying map shows the distribution of tbe Humming-birds over 
North and South America, the depth in the shade of colour being in proportion to 
the abundance of specjes in the several subregions. 

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range, we find that by far the largest number occur in a part of 
South America called the Sub-Andean subregion, which lies to 
the east of the Andes from Bolivia northwards and includes 
Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guiana. Here live more 
than 200 peculiar species of Humming-birds. Next in regard 
to richness in the number of species comes the Central-American 
sub region, nearly 100 peculiar kinds being met with between the 
State of Panama and Northern Mexico. The Patagonian sub- 
region, which includes Chili and the west coast of South America, 
is very poor in species, but possesses the largest of all the 
Humming-birds, the Patagona gigas. In the forest-clad districts 
of Brazil, of the valley of the Amazon and adjacent districts 
(Amazonian and Brazilian subregions), Humming-birds are 
abundant ; but comparatively few species (about 45) are peculiar 
to these countries, the majority being found also in the sur- 
rounding subregions. 

The West-India islands are inhabited by 16 species, none of 
which extend to the mainland. Finally, not more than nine 
species are found within the borders of the United States, and 
these only as summer visitors, most of them retreating during 
the cold season to Mexico and Central America, though some are 
said to winter in California during mild winters. 




[Case 1.] 
EUTOXERES. " Sickle-bills." 

Remarkable for their strong and greatly arched bills. When 
approaching a flower, like other Humming-birds, in a direct line, they 
have no sooner reached the calyx with their bills than they alter the 
position of their body in a downward direction, so that they appear to 
be suspended from the flower by the tip of the bill. The sexes are 
alike in plumage, which is rather plain. Three species are known, 
viz. E. aquila from Central America and Colombia, E. heterura and 
E. conclamini from Ecuador. 

[Case 2.] 
RHAMPHODON. « Saw-bill." 

The male bird has the edge of the bill provided with dentations like 
the teeth of a saw ; these are absent in the female. The plumage is 
rather dull, and the sexes are coloured alike. Only one species is 
known, from South-eastern Brazil — B. ncevius. 

[Case 3.] 
GLAUCIS. " Round-tailed Hermits." 

Like the. two preceding, nearly allied, genera, the members of this 
genus are of somewhat dull coloration, and are known by the name of 
Hermits, not only on account of their colour, but also of their solitary 
habits. They have the slightly curved bill of Ehamphodon, but without 
serrations. Six species are known, distributed over the whole of Eastern 
"Brazil, Guiana, Colombia, and Ecuador, ranging as far northward as 

* This list has bsen prepared by Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe. The majority of the 
(sometimes fanciful) English names are terms in general use, or given by Mr. Gould. 
The classification followed is that of Mr. D. Gr. Elliot in his ' Synopsis of the 


[Case 4.] 
PHAETHORNIS. " Long-tailed Hermits." 

This genus of Hermits contains a large number of species, distin- 
guished by the peculiar shape of their tails, which are strongly- 
graduated, the middle feathers being the longest, and in most of the 
species all the tail-feathers are conspicuously tipped with white. The 
male and female are alike in coloration. More than twenty species are 
now recognized by naturalists ; they inhabit Central America from 
Southern Mexico, and extend through all the countries of "Western 
America from Colombia to Peru and Bolivia, ranging also into Southern 
Brazil. They inhabit also Venezuela and Guiana, but are not found 
in Western Brazil. 

[Case 5.] 
EUPETOMENA*. "Swallow-tails." 

This, the first genus of the more brilliantly plumaged Humming- 
birds, is distinguished by its deeply forked tail and strong wings, 
which, in the male bird, have the shafts of the primary, or long, quills 
broad and flattened, giving the birds increased strength of flight. Two 
species are known, E. macrura (here exhibited) from Brazil and Guiana, 
and E. hirundo from Eastern Peru. 

[Case 6.] 
CAMPYLOPTERUS. " Sabre-wings." 

This genus differs from the preceding in not having the tail forked. 
Ten species have been described, which are found from Mexico through- 
out Central America to Venezuela, Guiana, and Northern Brazil, and 
down the western side of the continent as far as Peru. 

The Sabre-wings are powerful fliers, and appear to be somewhat 
migratory. They are very pugnacious, and the males fight with great 
fury in the air, the battle often terminating in the tongue of the 
vanquished bird being split, so that it ultimately dies from, inability to 
procure food. 

[Case 7.] 
CCELIGENA. " Caziques." 

Tail rounded and rather long. Bill straight and as long as the head. 
Four species are known, distinguished by the different colours of their 
throats, which are beautifully metallic. They are all inhabitants of 
Central America. 

* The same case contains specimens of Florisuga. Vide infra, p. 11. 


[Case 7.1* 
LAMPROL^EMA. " Garnet." 

One of the most beautiful of the Humming-birds, and the sole repre- 
sentative of the genus to which it belongs. The brilliancy of the throat 
and breast are remarkable. It is found only in Central America, from 
Mexico to Guatemala. 

[Case 8.] 
OREOTROCHILITS. "Hill-stars." 

Inhabitants of the Andes from Ecuador to Chili ; they are generally 
found on volcanic mountains, just below the line of perpetual snow. 
They hunt for insects on the ground among the moss-covered clumps, 
but desert these when flowering shrubs are out. The females are less 
brightly coloured than the males. 

Six species are known : — 0. chimborazo from the volcano of Chimborazo 
in Ecuador, altitude 14,000 feet ; 0. pichincha from the neighbouring 
volcanoes of Pichincha and Cotopaxi ; 0. estellce from Bolivia and Peru ; 
0. leucopleurus from the Chilian Andes ; 0. melanogaster from Peru ; 
and 0. adelce from Bolivia. All these species are exhibited. 

[Case 9.] 
LAMPORNIS. "Mangos." 

The tail is only slightly forked, and remarkable for its metallic 
colouring. The females are less brightly plumaged than the males. 
Eight species are known, the majority of which are very common in 
tbe localities in which they occur. They are found in the West-India 
islands, and range on the opposite mainland from Mexico throughout 
Central America to "Venezuela, Colombia, Guiana, and Eastern Brazil. 

[Case 10.] 
EULAMPIS. " Caribs." 

. The tail in this genus is even or rounded, and the upper tail-coverts 
are very conspicuous, broad, resembling plates of shining metal. The 
feathers of the forehead project, partly covering the nostrils ; but per- 
haps the most striking character is the absolute similarity of the sexes, 
the female being as brightly coloured as the male. Two species are 
known, from some of the "West-India islands, viz. S. Thomas, S. Croix, 
.Nevis, Martinique, Dominica, and Santa Lucia. 

[Case 11.] 
LAFRESNAYA. " Velvet-breasts." 

Rather strongly-built birds, with very slender curved bills and 
metallic -green breast, which strongly contrasts with the black abdomen. 
* This case also contains Eugenes. Vide infra, p. 12. 


The females are not so brightly coloured, having a white or buff under- 
surface spangled with green. Two species are known — L. Jlavieaudata, 
from the highlands of Colombia, and L. gayi, which represents the 
former in Venezuela and Ecuador. 

[Case 5.]* 
FLORISUGA. "Jacobins." 

The pure white tail and the very long under tail-coverts are the 
principal characters of this genus. The bill is straight and rather stout. 
Two species only are known. F. mellivora and F. fusca. The latter 
is confined to Brazil, whilst the former has an unusually wide range, 
viz. from Guatemala to Colombia, Peru, and Upper Amazonia, and 
extends eastwards through Venezuela and Guiana, inhabiting also the 
islands of Trinidad and Tobago. 

[Case 12.] 
PETASOPHORA. « Violet-ears." 

In this well-marked genus the colouring of the male and female are 
alike, but the latter is always smaller than her mate. The bill is longer 
than the head itself, and quite straight. The nostrils are covered by 
the plumes of the forehead. Six species are known, inhabiting the 
whole of Central America, and extending all over South America from 
the southern confines of Brazil to Bolivia and Peru. They are all lovers 
of the dense forest. 

[Case 13.] f 
PANOPLITES. " Green-backs." 

Plumage very brilliant in the tj^pical species, P. jardinii. The sexes 
are alike in plumage, and the tarsi are booted. Only three species are 
known, all of which are exhibited, viz. : — P. jcu dinii from Ecuador ; 
P. Jlavescens, also from Ecuador, ranging into the Andes of Colombia ; 
and P. mattheivsij remarkable for its chestnut under-surface, from 
"Western Ecuador and Pejru. 

[Case 14.] 
PH.<EOL.iEMA. " Lilac-throats." 

The sexes alike. Bill straight, and longer than the head. The 
metallic colours are confined to the crown of the head and a spot on the 
throat ; the latter is conspicuous and metallic-lilac. Two species are 
known, P. rubinoides from Colombia, and P. cequatorialis from Ecuador. 

* Vide supra, p. 9. 

t This case contains also Eustephanus. Vide infra, p. 14. 


[Case 14.] 
HELIODOXA. " Bbilliants." 

The tail is long and forked, the tarsi clothed with feathers, some to 
the base of the toes ; the bill is stout and about the same length as the 
head. Four species are known, ranging from Costa Rica to Venezuela 
and Colombia, and thence to Ecuador and Peru. 

[Cases 14, 15.] 
CLYTOL^EMA. "Rubles." 

The sexes are different in colour. The tarsi only partly clothed or 
booted, the tail being forked, and the bill stout, straight, and longer 
than the head. The Rubies inhabit the lowlands of Brazil, Ecuador, 
and Peru. Two species are known — C. rubinea and C. aurescens. 

[Case 7.]* 
EUGENES. " Rivoli." 

The bill straight, the wings long and pointed, and the tarsi clothed. 
Two species have been described : — E. fulgens, which ranges from 
Texas, through Mexico, to Guatemala ; and E. sjoectabilis, which re- 
places it in Costa Rica. 

[Case 16.] 
IONOUEMA. " Goegets." 

Four species have been described, of which the one exhibited, I. fron- 
talis, is the best known. They are all stoutly built birds, and are 
readily recognized by their brilliant spots on the throat. The nostrils 
are completely hidden by the feathers of the forehead, and the tail is 
deeply forked. 

[Case 19.] 
EUGENIA. " Empeess Humming-Bibd.'' 

Distinguished by its long and stout bill, its forked tail, the feathers 
of which are stiffened, and by the feathering of the tarsi, which extends 
nearly to the toes. The sexes are different* the female being more 
plain than the gorgeously coloured male. The single species at present 
known, Eugenia imperatrix, comes from the mountains of Ecuador, 
where it is found at a height of from 6000 to 7000 feet. 

[Case 17.] 
PTEROPHANES. " Sapphiee-wing." 

A very powerful bird, the largest, perhaps, of all the family, except- 
ing the Patagona gig as of Chili. The wings are very large and sickle - 
* Vide supra, p. 10. 


shaped, the tarsi are clothed, and the bill is very stout and slightly 
up-turned at the point. The female is much duller coloured than the 
male. One species only known, Pteroplianes temmincki, which extends 
into Colombia, through Ecuador, to Peru and Bolivia. 

[Case 18.] 
DOCIMASTES. « Sword-bill." 

The long bill, which exceeds in length the entire body of the bird 
itself, is a character by which this Humming-bird may be distinguished 
ficom every other kind at the first glance. Its use is to reach the 
insects on which the bird feeds at the bottom of long tubular flowers. 
One species is known, D. ensiferus, an inhabitant of Colombia, Ecuador, 
and Peru. 

[Case 20.] 
DIPHLOGENA. « Eainbow." 

Eanks among the most brilliantly plumaged species of Humming- 
birds, and is remarkable for the blue and scarlet hues of the head. 
The bill is straight and very long, the tail deeply forked. The sexes 
are so different that for a long while the female of Diphlogena iris was 
considered to be a distinct species. Two species are known, D. iris from 
Bolivia, and D. hesperus from Ecuador. 

[Case 21.] 
HELIANTHEA. " Star-ppontlets." 

Like the preceding birds, the members of the present genus are all 
large, fine species, of the most brilliant coloration. All of them 
have a kind of star on their forehead, and the upper surface of the 
body is especially brilliant. Eight species have been described, which 
are found in Venezuela and Colombia, through Ecuador, to Peru and 

[Case 22.] 
BOUECIERIA. « Incas." 

Bill very long and straight ; the tail long, broadened ; the tarsi bare, 
the feet small and delicate, and generally white or rosy in colour. 
The sexes are alike in plumage, which is rather peculiar, and in the 
majority of the species black and white, with the crown blue or of some 
other brilliant colour. The members of this genus are distributed 
through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru ; and thirteen species 
are now recognized. 


[Case 23.] 
HEMISTEPHANIA. « Lance-bill." 

A very singular form, on account of its structure as well as coloration. 
The bill is very long and straight, the wings very long for the size of 
the bird and slightly curved, and the tail rounded. Male and female 
alike in plumage, which is dove-coloured in the species exhibited. 
Five different kinds are known, inhabiting Yeragua, and extending 
through Colombia into Ecuador. 

[Case 24.]* 

FLORICOLA and HELIOMASTER. « Stab-throats." 

The members of these two genera have all fine metallic crowns and 
throats; in Floricola the gorget is not elongated, whereas in Helio- 
rnaster this is a noticeable feature. Eour species of Floricola are 
known, ranging from Mexico to Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, and 
Ecuador, while the single representative of the genus Heliomaster, 
H. furcifer, comes from Brazil and Paraguay. 

[Case 25.] 


In the first of these genera the bill is extremely slender, moderately 
long, and straight ; wings long ; tail slightly rounded. A band of 
white or buff crosses the breast. Eive species are known, inhabiting 
Yenezuela and Colombia, and ranging through Ecuador into Peru. 
Heliotryplia has much the same form as Heliangelus, but has not the 
light chest-band. 

[Case 26.] 
UROSTICTE. " White-tips." 

Bill straight and longer than the head ; nostrils not covered with 
plumes ; wings pointed ; tail slight, forked. Only two species are 
known, both of which are remarkable for the brilliant colour of the 
throat — U. ruficrissa and U. benjamini, from Ecuador. 

("Case 13.] 
EUSTEPHANUS. " Eibe-ceowns." 

In the Chilian species (E. galeritus) the sexes are nearly alike ; but 
in the two birds from the Juan-Eernandez Islands they are strikingly 
different, as will be seen from the specimens here exhibited. Eor 
many years the female was supposed to be a distinct species. 

* The same case contains Poly tmus. Vide infra, p. 22. 


[Case 27.] 
TOPAZA. " Kings." 

The character of the tail, in which two feathers are elongate and 
cross each other, distinguishes the "King" Humming-birds, which well 
deserve their appellation, for there are scarcely any other members of 
the family which surpass them in brilliancy of plumage. The common 
species, T. pella, is found in Guiana and the island of Trinidad, extend-- 
ing into Brazil and up the Amazon, being replaced on the Rio Negro 
by T. pyra. 

[Case 28.] 

^ETHUPtUS. " Long-tailed Humming-bird." 

This singular bird has the last tail-feather but one produced to a 
great length, and a remarkable black crest on the head. The female 
is very different, neither does the young male possess the graceful 
elongated tail-feathers of the old bird. Only one species known 
(JEJ. polytmus), which is confined to Jamaica. 

[Case 29.] 
THAL URANIA. " Wood-Nymphs." 

The members of the present genus do not show any striking charac- 
teristic ; they possess moderate-sized wings and tail, a bill of moderate 
length and slightly curved, forked tail, and tarsi clothed with feathers. 
In the males the prevailing colour is green or blue, with a metallic 
colouring on the crown or throat. The females are duller in colour. 
Eleven species are known, extending from Northern Brazil, through 
Guiana and Yenezuela, to Ecuador, and thence, ranging northwards, 
through Central America as far as Costa Rica and the Tres Marias 

[Case 30.] 
MICROCH^ERA. « Snow-caps." 

One of the most remarkable forms, differing entirely from other 
Humming-birds in the style of coloration. They are of diminutive 
size, blackish, with pure- white crowns. Two species only are known, 
from Central America. 

[Case 31.] 
TROCHILUS. " Colibbis." 

Tail-feathers not so much pointed as in the preceding genus ; wings 
short ; the colour of the plumage not very brilliant, except on the throat. 
Two species are known — one of them, the Trochilus colubris, in- 
habiting North America during the summer, and migrating in winter 
to Central America and the West- India islands. It extends very far 
north, and is replaced in California and Mexico by an allied species, 
T. alexaadri. 


[Case 31.] 
CALYPTE. " Aztecs." 

These beautiful little birds have very pointed tail-feathers, and the 
colour of the throat is extremely brilliant in the males. The feathers 
of this luminous throat are also elongated at the sides, forming a kind 
of shield. Three species exist — C. costce and 0. amice from Mexico and 
California, and 0. helence from Cuba. 

[Case 31.] 
SELASPHORUS. " Elame-bearers." 

Also in these Humming-birds the outer tail-feathers are pointed, 
but the whole tail is very much broader. The throat-feathers are 
elongated at the side, and form a shield of brilliant colouring as in 
Galypti. The sound produced by the wings of these birds when in 
motion has been described as a loud rattling noise, more like the 
shrill chirrup of a locust than the buzzing of wings. They may often 
be seen during the early summer to mount forty or fifty yards straight 
up in the air, poising themselves a moment or two, and then darting 
down again, repeating the same manoeuvre several times in succession. 
Sometimes, says Mr. Trippe, a score or more may be seen darting up 
and down together in this way for half an hour or more. 

Eight species are known, and these range from Yeragua in Central 
America to Mexico, and thence along western North America to Nootka 

[Case 32.] 
STELLULA. " Mexican Satellite." 

Remarkable for its long sickle-shaped wing, which has the first 
primary stiffened. It has the throat luminous, with the lateral feathers 
pointed and forming a shield. One species only known, Stelhda cal- 
liope, from Mexico. 

[Case 32.] 
ATTHIS and RHODOPIS. " Lucifers." 

The genus Atihis contains two species, A. heloisce, from Mexico, and 
A. ellioti, from Guatemala. Only two representatives of the genus 
Rhodopis are known — R. vesper, from Peru (here exhibited), and 
R. atacamensis, from Chili. 

[Case 33.] 
HELIACTIN. " Sun-gem." 

One of the most elegant of all the Humming-birds ; distinguished 
by its brilliant metallic double crest, and Magpie-like long graduated 
tail. The single species known, H. cornuta, comes from Brazil. 


[Cases 34, 35.] 
CH^ETOCERCUS. " Wood-stars." 

These tiny little birds are scarcely bigger than large bees, and one 
of them has been appropriately named C. bombus (Humble-bee). The 
tail is remarkable for its lengthened and pointed outside feathers. 
Three species are known — C.jourdmni from Trinidad, C. rosce from 
Venezuela, and O. bombus from Ecuador.' 

THAUMASTIJRA. ^ Case 87 ^ " Shear-tail." 

Distinguished by its peculiarly-shaped tail, the feathers of which 
are pointed, the middle ones being greatly elongate. It is only found 
in Peru, where it inhabits the humid districts. Several pairs are 
generally met with together. The males are extremely pugnacious, 
driving off every other kind of Humming-bird which ventures to enter 
their territory. The sexes are different, the female being much duller 
in colour. Only one species, T. corce, is at present known. 

[Cases 36, 37.] 
DORICHA and MYRTIS. "Wood-stars." 

The tail, which has been the principal distinguishing feature of 
several of the genera previously noticed, is here still more remarkable, 
the centre feathers being so short as to be hardly distinguishable from 
their coverts. The bill is rather long and slender, and the feet are 
small. The sexes are different in colour. Eive species are known, 
inhabiting Central America from Yeragua to Mexico, as well as the 
Bahama Islands, whence two species have been described. 

TILMATUEA. t Ca8e 37 '^ " Sparkling-tail." 

Wings rather short and somewhat sickle-shaped, The tail-feathers 
are pointed, and the outermost narrow towards the tip, which is curved 
inwards ; the tail is ornamented with alternating bands. One species, 
T. dujoonti, from Guatemala. 

LOPHOENIS. f Cases 38 ' 39 ' 40 -] « Co amm .» 

Easily recognized by their crested heads and the tufted feathers or 
ruffs which project on each side of the throat. They inhabit the whole 
of Central America, from Mexico southwards, as well as the greater 
part of the South- American continent, except the parts lying south of 
Brazil and Peru. Ten species are known, of which the following are 
exhibited : — L. delattrii, inhabiting Panama and southwards through 
Colombia and Ecuador to Peru ; L. ornatus, from Venezuela and 
Guiana ; L. gouldi, from Amazonia ; L. magnificus, from Brazil ; 
L. verreauxi, from Colombia and Peru ; and L. caribbtm, from Brazil. 


[Case 41.] 
GOULDIA and DISCUEA. " Thorn-tails." 

As implied by the English name, the tail-feathers of Gouldia are 
much elongated and sharply pointed ; the tarsi are " booted " or covered 
with a tuft of feathers. Pour species have been described, of which 
three are exhibited, viz.: — G. popelairii, from Colombia, Ecuador, and 
Peru ; G. langsdorffi, from Brazil and Upper Amazonia ; and G. con- 
verse, from Colombia. Discura has a racket at the end of the tail, and 
contains only one species, D. longicauda. 

[Case 42.] 
STEGANUEA. " Backet-tails." 

In this genus the elongate narrowed tail-feathers terminate in rackets 
or spatules ; tarsi booted. Six species are known, which inhabit South 
America from Venezuela and Colombia, through Ecuador and Peru, 
into Bolivia. 

[Cases 28, 43.] 
LESBIA and CYNANTHUS. " Train-bearers." 

Tail forked, with the outer feathers excessively elongate. The bill 
is very short and straight. Eour species have been described, from the 
highlands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. 

[Case 43.] 
SAPPHO. « Comets." 

These birds are perhaps the most gorgeous in existence as regards 
the colouring of their tails, which much resemble in shape that of 
Lesbia. They are of large size, and inhabit Peru, Bolivia, and the 
Argentine Eepublic, from which countries three species are known. 

[Case 44.] 
OXYPOGON. " Helmet-crests." 

Distinguished by a crest and a lengthened beard of white or buff- 
coloured feathers, which hangs from the throat. Two species — Oxy- 
pogon lindeni from Venezuela, replaced by 0. guerini in Colombia. 

[Case 44.] 
EHAMPHOMICEON. " Thorn-bills." 

The bill is remarkably minute for the size of the bird. This genus 
also has a lengthened beard on the throat like the preceding one, but 


it consists either of purplish or metallic-green feathers. Six species 
are known, inhabiting Colombia and Ecuador, and ranging into Peru 
and Bolivia. 

[Cases 45, 46.] 

Characterized principally by a short bill, which turns up slightly at 
the tip, much as in the Common Avocet (Avocetta recurvirostra). 
Avocettinus euri/pterus is from Colombia, and Avocettula recurvirostris 
from Guiana. 

[Case 47.] 
CHRYSTTRONIA. " Golden-tails." 

As in the preceding genus, the tails of these Humming-birds are 
luminous, in the females as well as in the males ; otherwise the sexes 
are different in colour. The bill is a little longer than the head and 
sligbtly curved. The tail is slightly rounded, and the tarsus clothed 
with feathers. The range of the five species known is extensive, as 
they are found from Guatemala through Colombia and Ecuador to 
Venezuela, and thence over the whole of Amazonia and Brazil to 
Paraguay and the Argentine Republic. 

[Case 48.] 
AUGASTES. " Yizor-beakeks." 

The name which Mr. Gould has chosen for these curious little birds 
is not inappropriate, for the fantastic arrangement of the feathers of 
the head renders them easily recognizable. Two species are known, 
A. sujperbus and A. lumachellus, both from Brazil. 

[Case 48.] 
SCHISTES. " Wedge-biles." 

These diminutive birds are very closely allied to the members of the 
preceding genus, and have the bill very similar in form. The arrange- 
ment of the plumage is, however, somewhat different. Two species 
known, both inhabitants of Ecuador. 

[Case 49.] 
HELIOTHRLX. " Eatrles." 

Eemarkable for their long graduated tails, the feathers of which 
are longer in the females than in the males. The bill is wedge-shaped. 
The plumage is also peculiar, consisting of green and white, with tufts 
of metallic blue on the sides of the neck. Three species are known, 
which are spread over the greater part of South America from Southern 
Brazil and Peru, northwards to Central America. 


[Case 50.] 
CHRYSOLAMPIS. " Ruby and Topaz.' 

The single species representing this genus is one of the commonest, 
and at the same time one of the most beautiful of all the known 
Humming-birds. It has for years been sent over to Europe in large 
quantities for the purposes of decoration of ladies' hats and dresses; 
and were it not for the extreme abundance of the species it would 
have been long ago exterminated. It is known at a glance by its 
ruby crown and golden throat. It ranges over the whole of Brazil, 
extending through Amazonia into Colombia, and northwards into 
Guiana and Venezuela. 

[Case 48.] 
BELLONA. " Gilt-crests." 

In many respects similar to the preceding genus, but recognizable 
by their well-developed crests. Two species, B. cristata and B. exilis, 
both inhabiting the West-India islands. 

[Case 48.] 
CEPHALOLEPIS. « Plover-crests." 

The head is crested, one, sometimes two, feathers being produced 
beyond the rest to a considerable length. The females lack the crest. 
Two species are known, confined to South-eastern and Southern Brazil. 

[Case 51.] 
KLAIS. " Eldtterers." 

Of small size, with long wings and rounded tail; tarsi clothed. 
They are particularly fond of feeding from the flowers of the Guayava- 
tree, which blooms nearly all the year round. The single species 
known, Klais guimeti, is rather local in its habitat, but distributed from 
Costa Rica southwards into Yenezuela and Colombia. 

[Case 52.] 
AGLJEACTIS. " Stjn-beams." 

The peculiar coloration of the rump forms one of the principal 
features in the present genus, for, although this part of the body is 
brilliantly coloured, it is necessary to look at it from behind towards 
the head to perceive the iridescence of the feathers. The females have 
the colouring a little less developed, but are otherwise similar to the 
males. The primaries or long feathers of the wing are sickle-shaped 
at the end. Eour species have been described, which are inhabitants 
of Peru and Bolivia, extending through Ecuador into Colombia. 


[Case 53.] 
ERIOCNEMIS. " Puff-legs." 

This genus contains a large number of species, all of which exhibit 
the peculiar tuft of woolly feathers on the tarsi, which have gained 
for them the popular name of " Puff- legged " Hamming-birds. The 
tail is forked, the wings are long and pointed, and the nostrils not 
hidden by plumes. The colouring of the tufts onthe feet, which look 
like little powder-puffs, varies considerably with the species, being 
black in one, pale brown in another, chestnut and white in two more, 
while in the other thirteen it is pure white. 

The seventeen species included in this genus inhabit South America 
from Yenezuela and Colombia, through Ecuador into Peru, and Bolivia. 

[Case 54.] 


The single species known is distinguished by a brilliant metallic 
throat. Head and centre of the breast deep blue. The sexes are 
alike in their rich colouring. Tarsi bare. Panterpe insignis, from Costa 
Rica and Yeragua. 

[Case 55.] 
LE TTCOCHLORIS. " White-throats." 

The tail is rounded, and the bill longer than the head and rather 
curved ; the tarsi clothed. One species known — L. albicollis, from 

[Case 56.] 
AGYRTRIA. " Emeralds." 

A very widely-spread genus, being found over the whole of Central 
America, and ranging over the entire continent of South America, with 
the exception of Chili and the countries south of Brazil. The bill is 
long and rather straight, the wings narrow, and the first primary some- 
what sickle-shaped. No less than twenty species are known, all of 
which appear to have light-coloured bills, which are probably red when 
the birds are alive. 

[Case 57.] 
EUPHERUSA. » Stripe-tail. 

Three species have been described, all from Central America. 




[Cases 24, 58.]* 

" Golden- throats.' 

Bather large birds, with green plumage and tails of green and white, 
the tail-feathers being narrow and pointed. Sexes alike. 


[Case 59.] 


A numerous group, consisting of not less than twenty-four species, 
which are spread over the whole of the South-American continent 
with the exception of Brazil, ranging northwards through Central 
America to Mexico. Some are found on the highlands, others fre- 
quent the hot sea-coast, and do not extend above 2000 feet altitude. 
They are fond of the blossoms of the orange- and lime-trees, and in 
some parts of Central America are said positively to swarm about the 


[Case 60.] 


Small birds with brilliant metallic plumage, the sexes being altogether 
unlike in colour ; the bill straight, the wings long, and the tail almost 
square. Two species are known — one, B. leucotis, ranging from Mexico 
to Guatemala, being replaced in Southern California by B. xanthusi. 


[Case 60.] 


In this genus, the prevailing colours of which are blue and bright 
green, the bill is straight and the nostrils bare, while the tail is 
rounded or only slightly forked. Nine species are known, most of 
them inhabiting Brazil and very rare ; but some are found in Guiana, 
Venezuela, and Ecuador. 


[Case 61.] 


Only one species, B. amabilis, is known, ranging from Costa Rica 
southwards into Ecuador. 

[Case 62.] 

Eight species have been described, inhabiting the entire South- 
American continent from Brazil and the Argentine Republic north- 
wards into Mexico. 

* Vide supra, p. 14. 

British Museum, 
July 10, 1885. 



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